Beef jerky is primarily dried beef and cats are obligate carnivores, so it makes sense that many cats will start mooching pretty hardcore when the pack of jerky comes out!
But can you share some of your jerky with your cat or should you be keeping it far away, beef content notwithstanding? Can cats eat beef jerky?
Yes, cats can usually eat beef jerky. But not all beef jerky is created equal, so you want to make sure you’re being selective about what your cat eats. Also, while it is meat, it’s not something cats should eat very often.
Do Cats Like Beef Jerky?
Many cats will come running when they smell beef jerky. It’s strong in flavor and odor, it’s beef, and cats usually enjoy chewing on it. Even my cat has shown interest in beef jerky before, though she usually doesn’t want to eat it. (She’s kinda finicky!) There are plenty of pet owners though who say that their cats love beef jerky.
Do Cats Hate Beef Jerky?
There probably are some cats that wouldn’t be terribly interested in beef jerky (I own at least one of them). In this case, they may be put off by the texture or just don’t care to eat food that they see their humans eat. Most cats probably won’t hate the beef jerky per se, but they might not be interested.
None of the cats I have owned have shown a particular interest in beef jerky. The dogs on the other hand, most certainly have!
Can Beef Jerky Kill My Cat?
Now here’s where things can get a bit problematic. Beef jerky won’t kill your cat; however, not all jerkies are the same and if you want to keep your cat safe to enjoy treats for a long time, you should be selective about what jerky it eats.
Commercial beef jerky in particular tends to be problematic for cats. It contains a high quantity of sodium, nitrates, MSG, and preservation chemicals, none of which are good for cats. (They’re not good for humans either!)
Too much build-up of this stuff can lead cats to be more vulnerable to serious sickness later in their life. High levels of sodium can lead to hypertension and heart problems while the preservatives can lead to problems with cholesterol levels.
But this is only the basic jerky; when you start looking at the flavored jerky, you have the potential for far more serious problems. For example, any jerky with onion or garlic powder in them is going to be far more toxic for cats.
Garlic and onion are very poisonous for cats and can lead to anemia which can be fatal. Some jerky also has extra sugar in them or other ingredients that can make your cat very ill, so you have to watch the ingredient lists!
The other issue with beef jerky is that it is salty and dried which makes you thirsty, let alone your cat.
Unlike humans who know to drink water with their jerky, cats are notorious for not drinking enough water and beef jerky gets them dehydrated all the faster. Make sure your cat has access to freshwater when they are nibbling on jerky so they don’t get too thirsty!
The best way to let cats have beef jerky is to make yourself, if possible. That way, you can control the ingredients and ensure that there is nothing there that could make your cat ill.
If that’s not possible, then make sure that whatever jerky you buy has minimal salt, msg, preservatives, and no toxic ingredients. Incidentally, this will make it healthier for you too! You can also find pet-specific jerky that will be a lot safer for your cat to eat.
Beef is also a common allergen for cats. Beef allergies can manifest as itching, skin irritation, redness, and sometimes hair loss. If you notice this on your cat, obviously stop feeding your cat jerky and go back to their usual treats and food. Cat-friendly jerky is actually usually made from things like fish and chicken, not beef!
Did your cat eat a pile of jerky? It’s probably going to be ok, but look out for symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, excessive scratching, and listlessness. If your cat starts displaying symptoms of illness, contact your vet for information and advice.
Also, make sure your cat doesn’t eat the silica packet found in bags of beef jerky. It’s not toxic, but it can cause a blockage that will require some help to remove.
So, beef jerky is unlikely to kill your cat, it is fairly unhealthy unless you get cat-specific jerky. It’s not something cats should have in large quantities and you want to make sure it’s as plain and low sodium as possible, so you may not like it very much!
How Much Beef Jerky is Safe for My Cat to Eat?
Beef jerky, assuming it’s safe, to begin with, is a reasonable treat to give a cat, but it’s still a treat. Cats really shouldn’t have more than a piece or two every once in a while.
If your cat got into a bag of jerky and ate several pieces, it will probably be all right, but make sure it has access to plenty of water. It might also have a bit of a stomachache and be sulky!
Beef jerky is a popular treat for cats. It’s tasty to cats, smells good to cats, and is pure meat. And assuming that it’s a plain jerky with no extra flavorings, it’s safe enough for cats to have in small quantities. The jerky might give your cat a boost of protein and encourage them to try out other foods.
On the other hand, they tend to be very high in salt and sodium and the preservatives can cause health problems if your cat eats too much of it for too long. Beef jerky is definitely a treat for cats, but it’s one of the better ones, assuming you choose properly or make it yourself.
Do your cats like beef jerky?